My boyfriend / my girlfriend is type 1 diabetic: a quick guide

Not only people with diabetes themselves need to know about their sweet friend. Often relatives need a lot of explanations, but rather a specific checklist. Consider what you need to know for those who have a boyfriend / girlfriend with type 1 diabetes.

Author’s column of the Good-Evil Editor. We analyze slippery topics and sensitive issues. It is allowed to read to people with immunity to diabetic humor, who are ready to perceive the truth without false gloss.

Did your frank conversation finally take place? Congratulations, if your partner told you about his diabetes, then either… a) you met a very confident person or… b) your boyfriend / girlfriend trusts you a lot and everything is going well for you.

You may be feeling confused and disoriented right now. You understand that you need to know a lot of things, but you don’t know where to go and what to read. It’s quite normal.
If you are still uncomfortable directly discussing all the exciting issues with your soul mate, here is a short guide on the most important points.

1. Insulin

A hormone that is normally produced in the body to carry glucose from food to cells. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce this hormone, because the immune system itself attacks insulin-producing cells. Scientists have not yet identified the reason for this.
To compensate for the lack of natural insulin production, people with diabetes administer it with pens or wear insulin pumps that deliver the hormone in constant microdoses.

Without diabetes, the pancreas does everything for us, and with diabetes, you think for it: you count carbohydrates in food, select the required amount of insulin and how to administer it. In practice, of course, this is more difficult, but for a general understanding at the beginning it is enough.

2. Devices

In addition to the insulin pump, diabetics use glucose monitoring. Your partner may have a device attached to their skin (often on their arm). It’s not an anti-nicotine patch, it’s not a pager, it’s not a decoration. This monitor helps your partner stay healthy.
A device on the skin is part of a system that constantly measures blood sugar (in continuous mode or as a flash – monitoring).

3. Accessories

There is a running joke in the diabetic community about the “diabetic bag”. Your partner probably also carries an impressive wallet or handbag with some important things. You also need to know what these things are, as well as in what situations your partner may need them.

  • glucometer is a device that measures blood sugar levels. Test strips and lancets are consumables for a glucometer . A lancet (a small device with a needle) is pierced into the skin to take a drop of blood for analysis. Usually blood is taken from a finger. The lancet can be automatic or inserted into a special pen . The test strip is inserted into the glucometer and blood is applied to it. A few seconds after that, the glucometer shows what concentration of glucose in the blood.
  • In case the glucose concentration is less than normal, diabetics carry with them something that contains fast carbohydrates: sachets of sugar, small packages of juice, sweets, or special tubes with pure glucose.
  • Diabetics also carry stocks of various consumables, depending on which method of insulin administration is used.

4. Daily duties. No panic!

Every day, people with diabetes measure their blood sugar several times (ideally 6-7, and with monitoring a little less often). They also inject themselves with insulin.

5. What do people with type 1 diabetes eat?

The best answer is everything that everyone else. The only difference is that diabetics are forced to approach food consciously. By the way, all people in the world should have a conscious approach to food. It’s just that without diabetes, malnutrition comes around in the long run, but with diabetes, it’s here and now.
Remember: diabetics eat all the same things, only before they put a cookie in their mouths, they make a conscious decision about it. Eating rashly can produce a strong spike* in sugar.

*peak is the time when blood glucose rises sharply and strongly in response to certain circumstances. Such factors can be different things, and not just food: stress, hormone release or inflammation, for example, when you are sick with SARS.

6. Sugar levels, well-being and mood

The mood of any person is very strongly related to the state of the body. For example, studies show that after eating a meal with a lot of sugar, people tend to react more aggressively to stimuli. Note (!), this study was conducted with the participation of people without diabetes.

The mood of a person with diabetes, of course, also strongly depends on the physical condition. Differences in glycemic levels (also called blood sugar / glucose levels) can give mood swings, apathy or irritability. Sometimes your boyfriend/girlfriend can get really mad at you or be stubborn, and sometimes you just have to give him/her a carton of juice.

Be alert for symptoms of high and low sugar:

Low sugar (hypoglycemia) – trembling, pale and sweaty skin, headache, excessive hunger, weakness.

High sugar (hyperglycemia) – Nausea, rapid / deep / shortness of breath, slurred or incoherent answers to questions, reddened skin and fever , drowsiness.

If you notice such manifestations, the first thing you can do is ask if your help is needed. People with diabetes are well aware of what to do in such situations. They will either manage themselves or ask you to do something (for example, give juice to raise blood sugar)

7. Sex

You should not pay attention to the sensor or pump. And yet, your soul mate has not turned into a crystal person – there is no need to be afraid to approach.
Sex affects diabetes like sports. The sugar level may drop, so you will need to monitor it. You may need to eat before or after. By the way, romance with good sweets as a gift here is even very welcome.

And about the analogy with sports. Physical activity improves diabetes management and is very beneficial in moderation.

8. Alcohol

People with diabetes can drink alcohol. Is it harmful to them? And to whom is it useful?

Alcohol, especially strong alcohol, increases the risk of low sugar. This means that a person with diabetes needs to combine drinking with food and check blood glucose levels more often.

9. Emergencies

Emergencies can happen and you need to be prepared for them in advance.
If your partner has suddenly fainted / is unconscious , call an ambulance immediately , and also do what usually happens when a partner with diabetes has low sugar or severe hypoglycemia.

If a person with diabetes is unconscious , glucagon must be administered. Discuss this issue in advance with your partner: he will show you what it is and explain how to work with it. Take it and call right now and ask!

If a person with diabetes is conscious, urgently let him take fast carbohydrates.


The best thing to do is ask questions. Of course, not with a machine-gun burst, simultaneously venting their criticism. Think about what exactly you want to ask.
If the list contains questions like: “Is this not to be treated?” or “I was reading about a burdock tincture that helps and I wondered if you would like…” – cross those questions out.

By discussing the place of diabetes in your partner’s life, you can show your support for her/him, as well as deal with your inner demons and worrisome questions. An open conversation is the best tool for a strong relationship!

You can also go deeper into this topic and go with your partner to the next appointment with the endocrinologist.
The more you learn about people with diabetes, the more you will understand what kind of work it is and what a strong and disciplined person you have met (a). Be proud of them and support them. And if you’re reading this, then you’re definitely on the right track.

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